I can hardly think of a coastal village more magical than St. Tropez. After years of reading about her reputation as a bastion for the well heeled and fashion conscious, I very much expected a tourist trap brimming with overpriced banal shops and over-dressed self important visitors. To my delight, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. To be fair, certainly there are parts of St. Tropez that attract both. But the essence of the place is quite something else. For starters, it is fundamentally beautiful, far less “built up” and commercial than Cannes or Nice, with considerably more interesting terrain. The feel is of an ancient town with meandering tiny streets, many of which lead to breathtaking views of the waterfront.
We approached by ferry from Cannes on a brilliantly sunny day. Our goal was to avoid the summer traffic, but the serendipitous surprise was how delightful the one hour ferry ride was with views of the gorgeous coastline.
Once you leave the bustle of the harbor behind and begin ambling through the town, you begin to discover many hidden and quiet passageways.
Wandering around past the shops, the waterfront is never very far. The pastel facades are so painterly, as to make one feel as if you’re looking at an artist’s rendering rather than the real thing.
As in most towns in France, a wonderful lunch can be had al fresco and for a song. I’ve always found the places you just stumble upon to be the best.
The lovely streets are lined with charming shops and restaurants.
The Old Town is home to the more interesting shops, with unique merchandise, art galleries and pretty antiques.
Painted shutters, pastel colors and climbing plants define the character of the winding streets. One wonders how it can ever be winter here.
Contrasting the picturesque streets of the Old Town is the bustling harbor, where riotous color and a cacophony of visitors meld to give one the impression that nothing would be shocking or out of place here.
The stunning White 1921 Hotel and Bar is the perfect place to stop for a drink and a brief respite. The tiny property is right in town and embodies that great design ethic that perfectly marries tranquil elegance and opulent detailing, with edgy hipster chic.
A view of L’église Notre Dame de l’Assomption on the Rue Saint Jean in Old Town St. Tropez is as a familiar a landmark as any here.
The only thing preventing me from feeling sad to leave was the heavenly ferry ride back. As I sat on the deck with the sun on my back, I couldn’t help but wonder, why would anyone sit in traffic?